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Meet Bradley Powell, R.Ph. – Medtipster.com Pharmacist

July 25, 2011 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

A few minutes with Bradley…

 

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: In additon to my responsibilities at www.medtipster.com, I am an outpatient pharmacist for LL Health. My main responsibility is to the patients that I serve and to the clinic that we’re in by helping the doctors and nurses with drug therapy for patients.
 
Q: What is a typical day like for you at the clinic?
A: typical day would include dispensing refill medications to our regular customers and new medications to people coming to us from our clinic and outside of the clinic. It also includes lots of phone calls from doctors and nurses who have questions about certain drugs or questions about patient therapy. And I’d say that the pharmacist’s main responsibility is to verify that all the prescriptions that leave the pharmacy are correct for the patient.
 
Q: What is your schedule like?
A: Our schedule can vary. I’d say most days are fairly regular and from 8:30am to 4:30pm, although some days there are 1pm-9pm shifts. As far as weekends, we usually work just one weekend day every four to five weeks.
 
Q: What do you like most about being an outpatient pharmacist for LL Health?
A: I like the staff that I work with both in the pharmacy and in the clinic. For a professional pharmacist, it’s very nice to be so close with the doctors and the nursing staff and to be able to get a hold of them when we need to.
 
Q: What motivates you most in your career?
A: I would say hearing good things from our customers is probably the most motivational aspect.
 
Q: What is the atmosphere like at the clinic?
A: The atmosphere here at the clinic is very open and friendly. All of the staff seems to get along and work together, so it makes for a really good working environment.
 
Q: What originally got you interested in the pharmacy field?
A: I originally went into pharmacy because I liked math and science in school. And after I had looked around at different careers that would involve my interests, pharmacy just seemed like a really good fit.
 
Q: What are some unique aspects of being an outpatient pharmacist at LL Health?
A: I think as an outpatient pharmacist, a lot of times you are the “first line” for many patients. So I think it’s always interesting because we see so many different things. And I think our opinion to the patients we serve really matters.
Contact Bradley or one of our pharmacists at contact@medtipster.com

Pharmacies embrace expanding medical role

September 13, 2010 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

www.Medtipster.com Source: News & Observer – 9.12.2010

After years of adding everything from groceries to grills to their inventory, drugstore chains are once again emphasizing their pharmacies.

Pharmacists are being asked – and paid by insurance companies – to monitor their customers’ health. That could include counseling them on chronic diseases, making sure they’re taking their medications, and screening for maladies from diabetes to high cholesterol.

While many pharmacists have long done more than dispense pills, this is the first time many have been able to offer such a wide range of medical services – partially because of changes in the way pharmacists are educated, and partially because of legislative changes that have cleared the way for an expanded role.

For pharmaceutical chains, the change is an opportunity to develop new sources of revenue in a highly competitive industry.

For customers, it’s another option for health care, and one that may be less expensive and take less time than a trip to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic.

“I think it’s a mixture of everything that’s going on,” said David Catalano , a Raleigh pharmacist who works for Walgreens . “[Customers] are trying to get some advice as quick as they can from someone they can trust.”

The emphasis on pharmacists makes economic sense for health insurers. Pharmacists have expertise and often have a customer’s entire medical picture, so they can catch prescription overlaps or possible drug interactions. Nor do they command the same fees that a physician does from a health insurer.

The push toward enlisting pharmacists to do more than dispense drugs comes as the nation is trying to lower health care costs. A 2007 study from the New England Healthcare Institute estimated that 13 percent of total health care expenditures – more than $290 billion a year – are made simply because people don’t take their medications as prescribed. Those people have a higher likelihood of winding up in the emergency room or with other complications because they did not follow their doctor’s instructions.

But not everyone is happy with pharmacists treading on turf that was once solely the territory of doctor’s offices and urgent care clinics.

“Store-based health clinics can offer patients an option for episodic care but cannot replace the patient-physician relationship,” said Rebecca Patchin , a doctor from California and board member of the American Medical Association . “Patients deserve timely access to affordable, high-quality care provided by health care professionals that are appropriately and adequately trained. Convenience should never compromise safety.”

‘Closer than my doctor’

Over the past four years, James Evans has come to rely on Prasanna Bafna, a pharmacist near his Durham home, for much of his medical advice.

On Thursday, Evans was at his Rite Aid for an hourlong counseling session with Bafna.

They reviewed Evans’ medications, including drugs for diabetes, high blood pressure and poor circulation.

Though the pharmacist didn’t tell him to make any major changes, Evans said the opportunity to speak with a medical professional for such a length of time is invaluable.

“It’s wonderful,” said Evans, 76, of Durham. “When it’s time for my medicine, it’s right on time. I don’t have to stand there and wait on it. The other pharmacist I used to go to, you’d have to sit and wait for hours. … [Bafna] is closer than my doctor. My doctor is eight or nine miles from here.”

Proponents of the expanded role of pharmacists say that getting customers like Evans to utilize the new services being offered is key to making the system work and lowering health care costs.

Reimbursement rates

In general, pharmacists are not reimbursed as much money as doctors are for immunizations and the like, said Dan Mendelson , CEO of Avalere Health , a health care advisory company in Washington, D.C., and a Duke University adjunct professor.

“Most pharmacies are not allowed to bill for a pharmacy visit,” he said. “They’re allowed to bill for a vaccine, but there’s no routine office visit into the pharmacy that gets paid for by the insurance.”

The insurance companies may choose to reimburse the pharmacists more money or for additional services if there is a shortage of doctors or other circumstances in a particular region, Mendelson added, but “it depends on what the insurance company is trying to accomplish with respect to its network.”

The model is getting a boost from federal legislators. Some changes triggered by the new health care law will take effect later this month, with other changes rolled out in the years to come.

As of this year, laws in all 50 states also allow pharmacists to administer immunizations, something that also clears the way for expanded services.

Some companies are using the additional services simply as another way to get customers through the door, even if some of the services are not yet reimbursed by insurance, Mendelson said.

“It’s really about bringing purchasers into the box,” he said. “That’s what they call it. The box is the four walls in the pharmacy. If you can bring purchasers into the box then you’re doing fine. If a consumer comes in and they buy all kinds of other stuff, you’re doing well.”

Enhanced training

In addition to legislative changes last year, there have also been changes in the pharmacy industry that have helped pharmacists reach this point, said Edith Rosato , senior vice president of pharmacy affairs for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores .

She credits federal plans which began paying pharmacists to counsel Medicare and Medicaid patients in the hopes of improving results. She also said that an academic change was also key Students earning a pharmacy degree must now get a year of training on counseling and interacting with patients.

That set the foundation for the industry to focus more on patient care services, Rosato said.

So far, studies have indicated the services are working.

Raleigh-based Kerr Drug has taken the lead in this state in offering preventive care and has gone so far as to design some stores to focus exclusively on health and wellness. In Asheville, the company partnered with the city and the Mission-St. Joseph’s Health System to see whether pharmacists with expanded roles could help diabetes patients better manage their diseases and save in overall health care costs.

Kerr found that the annual health care costs for the diabetes patients participating in Asheville declined by 9.8 percent per year. One employer had an average reduction of 41 percent in sick days taken by participating patients, which equated to an estimated $18,000 in increased productivity for the company.

The need for these types of clinics will only increase as the population grows older and more people are diagnosed with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, said Rebecca Chater , executive vice president of Kerr Health , a subsidiary of Kerr Drug.

“Look at the number of people who are now moving into Medicare age,” she said. “If you look at medication use in that population, people who are within the Medicare system have 13 different prescriptions on average, with 50 different medications filled each year on average. The opportunity is huge.”

But getting to a point where insurance companies are willing to reimburse for more preventive services and pharmacists are willing to offer them is tricky business, said Jay Campbell , executive director of the N.C. Board of Pharmacy.

“There is a bit of a chicken and the egg aspect,” he said. “Health care being the huge expenditure it is, folks aren’t going to want to spend money until there’s a demonstrated benefit for those services. But private insurers have to start seeing enough of a value to provide the reimbursement.”

‘Cookbook medicine’

Still, some physicians say there are risks to having health care administered by pharmacists instead of doctors.

Linwood Watson , a family medicine doctor with an urgent care clinic called Rex Express Care in Knightdale, said he thinks patients like the new options because they are very transparent. There is a set fee for each service, and no secrets about what things will cost.

“Everyone wants cookbook medicine, but what happens when your body doesn’t read the book?” he said.

Pharmacies respond by saying that they work closely with area doctors to offer referrals to customers who do not have a primary care physician or need further medical expertise.

But with so many options and such a fragmented system, Watson said, he feels patients will have to take more responsibility for their own care in order to ensure continuity.

“If you want to go buy a car, and you want a good deal, you’re going to have to do some research, keep some records and be prepared,” he said. “Are you prepared to do that for your health care?”

Copyright © 2010 McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield study estimates e-prescriptions could save money and lives

July 16, 2010 By: Nadia Category: HealthCare, Medicine Advice, Medtipster, Prescription News, Prescription Savings

www.Medtipster.com Source: The Post Standard – by Charley Hannagan – 7.14.2010

A study released Tuesday estimates that 35 deaths a year could be prevented in Upstate New York if more doctors sent prescriptions electronically to pharmacies.

Yet, less than a quarter of the doctors nationally, and in Upstate, e-prescribe.

The study by Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield shows that 24.3 percent of doctors and 20.6 percent of physicians assistants in Upstate electronically send prescriptions to pharmacies, called e-prescriptions. In Central New York, the number drops to 21.8 percent of doctors and 17.3 percent of physician assistants.

E-prescribing is important to keep patients safe, prevent prescription forgeries, save money and make the system more efficient, said Dr. Arthur Vercillo, of Excellus.

“You can try and write as neatly as possible on a prescription form, but the call-backs (from pharmacists seeking clarification) still come in,” he said.

The study estimates that if all doctors sent e-prescriptions, and acted on the alerts provided about drug interactions, it would prevent 35 deaths, 161 permanent disabilities, 391 emergency room visits and 449 hospitalizations.

If doctors followed the generic prescription recommendations that pop up when they e-prescribe just 1 percent of the time, it could cut health care spending in Upstate by $64 million, Vercillo said.

The federal government is encouraging doctors to computerize patient medical records to make the system more efficient. E-prescribing is one part of that.

The federal government offers incentives to doctors to e-prescribe.

Excellus also offers an incentive to doctors to e-prescribe as a part of a package of incentives, Vercillo said.

Yet only about 25 percent of doctors nationally e-prescribe even though 85 percent of the pharmacies nationwide can accept e-prescriptions, according to Excellus.

Among other advantages are it allows doctors to retrieve a patient’s prescription history, it prevents forgeries and patients from going to many different doctors for the same prescription and it allows doctors to see a patient’s insurance coverage for drugs.

Pharmacists are Among the Most Trusted Professionals

February 04, 2010 By: Tylar Masters Category: Medicine Advice

Pharmacies work hard to bring you in as a customer, not just once, but for life. They want to be your trusted source for questions and concerns, as well as fill your doctor’s written prescription.

Think about the last time you took a 10-minute drive somewhere. How many CVS, Rite Aid or Walgreens did you pass? The fact is there’s a pharmacy on nearly every other corner! The pharmacy industry is crucial to healthcare.

Within every pharmacy, there is a trusted professional called a pharmacist. Otherwise the pharmacy wouldn’t be able to operate. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) states that on average there is a pharmacy within two and a half miles of every resident in the U.S. Many have drive-thru and 24-hour access, meaning whenever you’re in need of a medication, your pharmacist is there for you.

Pharmacists dispense pills, sure, but that’s not all they do. They consult with you regarding your specific prescription, other medications you are taking, side effects, possible alternatives, and answer any questions you have about your health. Many times I’ve walked into my pharmacy looking for an over-the-counter drug for a cold or flu like symptoms, and the pharmacist on duty helps me find the best option for my symptoms.

This shows me a high level of kindness and concern, which healthcare professionals should absolutely carry at all times. I believe in most cases, people find that pharmacy professionals are always willing to answer questions and spend time getting to know their patients. Often this is why pharmacies entice customers to stay with them for refills and ongoing prescriptions, the pharmacist wants to get to know you, and help you determine the right medications for you.

Sources: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

Kroger Offers Flu Shots At Their 1,900+ In-Store Phamacies

September 18, 2009 By: Nadia Category: H1N1 News, Medtipster

Nádia - your personal pharmacy cost adviser

Nádia - your personal pharmacy cost adviser

The Kroger Companys Family of Pharmacies is making it easy and affordable for customers to take steps to keep themselves and their families healthy by getting seasonal flu immunizations early.

This year, Krogers more than 1,900 in-store pharmacies will again offer convenient access to seasonal flu vaccines at an affordable price. Flu vaccines will be administered by Krogers own Certified Immunizing Pharmacists for $25 per vaccine. During the 2008-2009 flu season, the Kroger Family of Pharmacies administered nearly 1 million flu vaccinations.

Find your nearest Kroger Pharmacy by using medtipster.com

Importation – Be Afraid, Very Afraid

August 04, 2009 By: PharmaSueAnn Category: Medtipster, Prescription News

pharmasueann_logoMedtipster is available “free of charge” to assist all consumers in reducing prescription drug costs. We do not believe that consumer safety can be ensured in any system that allows of the personal importation of prescription drugs. You should be very concerned about the safety and effectiveness of these drugs. Your life is to important.

Everyday your neighborhood pharmacist is available to assist you in obtaining cost effective, therapeutically appropriate drug therapies. This personal service is not available with imported drugs.

One of the most cost effective ways to reduce your prescription drug cost is through the use of generic drugs.

Medtipster applauds the pharmacists of the United States for their continued effort in reducing prescription drug costs.

Pharmacists provide education about medicines

July 29, 2009 By: PharmaSueAnn Category: Medtipster, Prescription News

In addition to dispensing medicines that cure illnesses and improve health, pharmacists provide education about medicines, help people manage and adhere to complex regimens, ensure drug safety, avert dangerous drug interactions, prevent overmedication, offer immunizations and screenings, advocate for access to medications and provide extensive health resources and educational services to the public. The practice of pharmacy involves so much more than merely counting pills.

Furthermore, these services are offered in community pharmacies, clinics, hospitals and nursing homes nationwide. In fact, 92 percent of Americans live within five miles of a community pharmacy, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association. Pharmacists do not require an appointment. Many pharmacies are open on evenings, weekends and holidays. Some are even open 24 hours a day.

No other health care provider offers this level of accessibility. As such, pharmacists must be recognized for the significant contributions they make to their communities, to the public’s health and to the entire health care system.

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